15.09.2005 Regional News

Halt mining activities in forest reserves - FOE

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Accra, Sept. 15, GNA - Government should immediately halt all current mining activities in forest reserves, which have significant natural, economic, and social values, an environmental nongovernmental organisation (NGO), Friends of the Earth said on Thursday. The Government should not allow any future prospecting or mining within forest reserves, it said in a communiqu=E9 released at the end of their three-day annual general meeting in Accra.

"These reserves must be protected to support biodiversity and the sustainable livelihood activities of local communities," FOE said. "Forest reserves are crucial for the protection of biodiversity, as well as the sustainable livelihood activities of present and future generations," it emphasised.

On the West African Gas Pipeline project, the communiqu=E9 said before it was continued further, the sponsors should tell the people of Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria, which were involved in the project, the full treaty together with the annexed international project agreement. It said all gas purchase or take-off agreements between the West African Gas Pipeline Company and the consumers/governments of Ghana, Togo and Benin and the economic and financial assessments of the Project must be made public.

It also said the contract between Ghana and Nigeria for Nigeria to provide a loan to Ghana for its equity stake in the project should also be disclosed.

"Since the project is also about regional integration, the government of Ghana should be concerned about the environmental and social impacts of the Project in the countries of Nigeria, Togo and Benin and examine the environmental impact assessment of these states. "We also demand that the issues of concern to the Niger Delta communities regarding the activities of oil companies operating on their lands be resolved before the Project goes any further, particularly if it is to promote regional integration as suggested by the promoters."

FOE noted that environmentally damaging land use activities, such as mineral extraction, logging and charcoal and firewood extraction, in desert-prone areas, were extending the desert conditions from the northern savannah zone into the transitional zone in the south. "We, therefore, demand that the government of Ghana upholds her commitment to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification and put in measures to halt and reverse the process of desertification."

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